Tucker Carlson Pretty Sure It's Joe Biden's Fault He Wrongly Claimed 1,000s Killed By COVID Vaccine
Tucker Carlson made an absolute ass out of himself on Wednesday night. This is nothing new. This time, however, he told a particularly egregious lie that "thousands" of people had died from the COVID vaccine. Given the fact that conservatives are already fucking this whole thing up by refusing to get vaccinated, this was also a very dangerous lie.
But it was also such a big lie that even his own colleagues at FOX called it a lie. It was such a big lie that, last night, Tucker Carlson had to explain why he lied so hard.
His explanation? Joe Biden made him do it.
You see, Carlson got his information from the CDC and FDA's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a notoriously flawed system to which literally anyone can report anything, without any proof whatsoever. This, he says, made them "Biden's numbers." He kept referring to them as "Biden's numbers" and "the administration's numbers," which they weren't. In fact, had he or his interns actually gone through the VAERS website, they would understand that all of the "adverse reactions" are self-reported. People can report anything they want. Once, an autism activist even used the site to claim a vaccine had turned him into the Incredible Hulk.
Joe Biden, of course, did not invent VAERS. He has also only been in office for three months, so there has not exactly been a lot of time for a complete overhaul of that system.
VAERS has existed (and has had these same issues) since 1988. Its purpose has never been to compile actual data of things that actually happened, but to function more as an "early warning system" so that the CDC and the FDA can see if certain adverse reactions keep popping up and then look into them. Unlike the CDC's Vaccine Safety Datalink, which is limited to health professionals and requires actual documentation, literally anyone can contribute data to VAERS.
Tucker Carlson, unfortunately, is far from the first person to come to a completely wrong conclusion through VAERS. For years, even the mere fact of its existence has (along with the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act) has been used by anti-vaxxers to provide validity for their very wrong beliefs about vaccines, including that they cause autism and other issues. "How can you say vaccines are safe when these things even exist?" they ask. Perhaps ironically, they both exist because people incorrectly blamed their children's encephalopathy on the pertussis vaccine and the government determined it was better for people who believe their children were "injured" by vaccines to sue the government rather than the vaccine manufacturers, so that the manufacturers wouldn't decide making the vaccines wasn't worth it.
Anti-vaxxers frequently point to screen caps from VAERS showing just how many cases of autism have been "caused" by vaccines. The use of screencaps shared on social media is very important both in this and in spreading misinformation about COVID, because if you actually go to the VAERS website, they make you check 80 million boxes saying that you understand that this isn't actual data.
The COVID anti-vaxxers have been doing this same thing for weeks now. They've been using this "data" to claim that the COVID vaccine has caused death, still births, and even suicide. Yes, Alex Berenson, former New York Times reporter turned COVID anti-vaxxer, has actually used this data to claim that suicide is a side effect of the COVID vaccine. Specifically suicide by firearm.
2/ The reason I do now: The VAERS reports contain two suicide reports, both very shortly after vaccination. Female… https://t.co/kM6E3eC6nP— Alex Berenson (@Alex Berenson) 1612042357.0
"Another oddity in the vaccine adverse events reports," Berenson tweets, "one Moderna trial death was a suicide in the vaccine arm. It was judged unrelated; someone approached me and told me he had information suggesting otherwise, but I couldn't confirm it and so didn't mention it... 2/ The reason I do now: The VAERS reports contain two suicide reports, both very shortly after vaccination. Female suicide by firearm is rare - it happens, but it's rare. You can judge the causation in the second case for yourself."
Yes, that is the star science understander of the anti-vaxx world.
But back to Carlson. After blaming Joe Biden for his inability to correctly interpret data, he then goes on to point out that there have been more deaths "connected" with the COVID-19 vaccines on the VAERS database than with any other vaccine over the last 15 years, and asking why that doesn't warrant looking into. Again, it is because literally anyone can claim that they know someone who got killed by a vaccine. People have a very strong agenda regarding this particular vaccine and believe it is part of Bill Gates's plan to implant everyone with the Mark of the Beast, so they have pretty good reason to go on there and lie.
This, naturally, devolves into "Why can't we ask questions? We're just asking questions! Even acetaminophen has side effects! Why can't we ask what the problems with the COVID vaccines are without being told we're bad?"
The answer to this is that other people can "just ask questions." Tucker Carlson, however, doesn't get to "just ask questions" because he is known to take one tiny grain of information and go right off the deep end with it. He is known to be disingenuous. His job is to rile up his legions of adoring fans and tell them what they want to hear, which right now is "the vaccines are dangerous and will kill you." When you do that often enough, everyone knows that you are not just sincerely "asking questions."
As important as government transparency is, it's hard to say that making the VAERS database accessible to everyone is doing more good than harm, and it may be time to revisit the idea of it being a searchable online database with less oversight than Wikipedia.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse